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Ep 3 Australian headliner Benny darsow

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

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Produced By White Hot

Carole Freeman: hey, welcome everyone to The Get Good Podcast. I'm your host, Carole Freeman.

This is the podcast for comedians that are serious about getting good. So whether you're trying to advance beyond the open mic scene or looking to get booked consistently at comedy clubs and more, this podcast is for you. I'm comedian, Carole Freeman, and I'm interviewing headlining, comedians, club owners, bookers, festival judges, comedy instructors, and more to find out their best tips, techniques, and strategies so that you can improve your standup comedy and get good.

And guess what? Today I'm so excited. We have international touring headliner, Benny Darsow. Darsow? Am I saying that right?

Benny Darsow: You can pronounce that however you want because most people do, but Darsow is what my parents go with.

Carole Freeman: Darsow. Okay, like, sow the seeds. I'm going to get it wrong, but I just call you Ben.

That's easy, right?

Benny Darsow: We go Ben or Benny. Let's do that.

Australian Headliner, Benny Darsow

Carole Freeman: Ben or Benny. Benny is an Australian comedian who delivers laugh out loud observational and improvis Im Imp I can't speak perfectly on this. So improvise stand up. He's headlined top tier comedy clubs in Australia, Vancouver, and Kuala Lumpur. I knew I was going to mess that up.

He's always also had stints performing in London and Los Angeles. And Ben spends about two weeks a month out at sea on cruise ships. So I can't wait to talk about all about how he got into that and how that is for you. And then the rest of the time he's performing around Australia in the clubs, comedy festivals.

Mining communities. I want to know more about that regional theaters and occasional corporate events. So, Hey, everyone helped me. Welcome Benny, Ben.

Benny Darsow: Hey, thanks so much. Thanks, Carole. And hello, everybody. Good to be here.

Carole Freeman: So glad. And you know what, this guy is so dedicated to helping you all. He, it's like eight in the morning for him there in Australia, so that, you know, this guy is a giver

Benny Darsow: I, I love, I love how normal that should sound to the rest of the outside world, but anyone in the comedy community is like, oh man, this guy just took a bullet.

Carole Freeman: Right? Yeah. I usually, anything where people are like, oh, can you, we're gonna do this thing at nine, and I'm like, oh. See, that means I need to get up and shower before and brush my hair.

And that's just way too early. So welcome to the show where this is an interactive show. So if you've got any questions for, for Benny, I'm going to interview him, but if you've got any questions and let us know where you're joining from too, and we'll give you a little shout out here on the show. So, so Benny, let's go back to the beginning.

How long have you been doing comedy?

Benny Darsow: I started in. 2002. So 21 years to this point. Let's, let's say nine months off in 2020 with with the COVID pandemic. So I'm, I'm, I'm right on 20 years. I'd say,

Carole Freeman: you know, that's so funny. I always think of that. Like You know, comics that have shorter time in how we count, how do we count the time off for you know, how long we've been doing comedy?

Do we subtract that? Do we add it? And I always thought to myself like, well, Veteran comics like you that have been doing for 20 years. They don't say like, well, minus this, that, but I guess I was wrong. We all want to We all want credit for time off time served

Benny Darsow: that yeah, that's true. I mean, I, I certainly think there was a lot to absorb and a lot to learn from that time.

I guess just looking at it from the perspective of it was the best part of nine months, not on stage here in Australia. We sort of I don't know, responded slightly differently depending on which state you're in where, where I was in, it wasn't as hard. I'm from Adelaide in South Australia. But we still had definitely some venue closure for a few months really severe venue restrictions in terms of the numbers of people that could kind of, you know, being in a place after that.

And, you know, from that sort of promoters perspective, it wasn't viable for a few months to even run shows, you know, when you got told you could have 17 people sitting, you know, four meters away from the nearest person in their venue and, and and they need to think about it you know, from a ticket sales perspective.

Yeah, but and, and then there was no interstate travel as well within, within Australia. It was, it was crazy, you know, this, this country that we feel in normal times is, is, is a, a united thing just became so segregated and you know, there were restrictions to get from one state to another at certain times you just literally could not get from, you know, a particular state into another state.

So yeah, it was, it was, it was a wild time. It was, it was the best part of nine months, I reckon. At the very minimum for for most comics. And some of them, if they were more based in Victoria, I'm not sure how much you heard about that. Obviously, Melbourne's the capital city there. They had two stints of, of, of, of hard lockdowns that I reckon.

Went for something in the order of like 200 days, each of them. You know, so I, I, I just, I, I can't, I can't imagine what it would have been like as a, as a performer there or, or even just living there, to be honest.

Carole Freeman: Wow. Yeah. I always think of Australia as the rebel country and then seeing how they handled the pandemic.

I was like, Oh no, they. They had a lot of restrictions and shutdowns and, and yeah, so I'm glad we're all on the other side of that. I remember too, trying to produce a show after things started opening up in the Washington area. And people were afraid to laugh. I found they were. A little bit restricted because we'd been told that our breath could kill somebody else.

Did you find that people were afraid to laugh after the pandemic?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, I, I, I still, I still see the occasional person, you know, with the, with the mask on in the, in the, in the comedy shows I know we'll talk a little more down the track about the cruise ship environment, but you know, as generally. a few people in each of those audiences.

And I think that was another, that was another challenge when, when performing did actually sort of start to make its way back. You know, as the, as the pandemic was kind of tailing off was. Promoters had roomfuls of people wearing masks. And so you'd get on stage and you're performing to people, as you say, who are apprehensive or worried about how they can respond.

And you can't see their response. And it was it was just a weird time, wasn't it?

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Yeah. Yes. And then Arizona down here is, ends up being one of the freedom states that like things were, we had about six weeks of lockdown and then they're like, ah, just go back to normal life.

Benny Darsow: You're fine. Yeah. Wow. Okay.

There you go. Done and dusted.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. And then, but Washington state where I lived for 27 years, they were closed for almost two, two years, restricting everything. So it's just very, very different from state to state how things were handled here. But again, we're We made it, made it. Yeah.

So do you, so do you remember back 20 some plus years ago?

Do you remember your first open mic? and how you got hooked into all this comedy stuff?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, yeah, I, I, I sure do. And 20, 20 years ago, it's funny. You even just sort of say open mic like that. That probably wasn't even a term people would have sort of thing. Familiar with here okay.

Oh, yeah. Yeah, we There was so there was so little stand up. I remember before i'd done stand up I'd seen jerry seinfeld do those little snippets on his show, you know from those little new york clubs, and I think i'd seen somewhere a dvd of eddie murphy doing delirious And that, that was, that was literally it.

I'd never seen it live and, and we have this comedy competition that's still running to this day. It's essentially produced by the Melbourne comedy festival, but it's a, it's a nationwide competition and it's an opportunity for people to just get a little foot into the industry. It's called raw comedy.

And that was my first gig in a very sort of supportive little environment. Just one of the hates of that You know, probably as good an opportunity as any to get on stage and be comfortable that if you don't particularly do well, or it's not for you, it's not going to be a, a life scarring experience.

And for me, you know, it, it went probably as, as, as well as it, as well as it could. And, and that was, that was my little that was my little leg into this crazy world.

Carole Freeman: So it sounds like it's similar to, we do shows here called like new faces where it's like. Brand new comics get up at the big clubs. So you, so you said like open mics weren't a thing back then.

What was your path of getting started in comedy?

Benny Darsow: Yeah. Yeah. I look, you know, you, there probably were things called open mics and, you know, that probably meant you could bring a guitar or you could read poetry or maybe you could do comedy, but not, not in the sense that, you know. We have it here now. And you know, you guys have it even more there. I'm sure where, you know, there's a, there's a genuine sort of open mic circuit where, where comics can really sort of cut their teeth before they maybe sort of, you know, transition into some of the more established clubs.

Yeah. So yeah, that, that, at that stage, yeah, it, it, it didn't exist. As I said, I began in Adelaide and from recollection, yeah. When we were in the early two thousands there, we had a Irish pub, which is where I did my first show. It was a, it was sort of it was a genuine kind of front bar gig. I'm sure we can all picture that.

The, the little room within that venue actually that I did my. Heat in my very first gig was a little upstairs kind of function room. So it was it was a little safe Harbor within a crazy Irish pub that I would do many times sort of over the following few years. And then we also had a little arty kind of underground venue as well named Rhino room.

So it was. It was, it was literally just the two of those. But I think it was a good little contrast as well. You know, given that we only had a couple of venues, you sort of got your, you've got your venue where people might go and sort of stand there and have a few beers and a pretty mainstream crowd.

And then you had your little, kind of, you know, funky upstairs you know, attic kind of venue as well, where it was a, it was a different clientele. And perhaps a different style of comedy that would, you know, kind of appeal up there as well. So for having had Very few options. I think it was actually quite fortunate the, the way that we did at least have those two distinctly different types of venue available to us then.

Carole Freeman: It's interesting how much comedy has changed in 20 years, at least the career path, right? Like I know a lot of people that are about. You know, 20 ish years in, and back then it was like, Oh, you didn't open Mike. And then somebody saw you and they're like, Hey, you want to go on the road and do 20 minutes, three months into comedy.

And they're like, so it was, you know, getting lucky. And, and now people grind and toil for, you know, five years or 10 years. And they're like, where, when am I going to get my break? And so what, what, what was your, your career path? You know, you got, you got raw comedy. It went well. And. You know, did you just go into doing 10, 20 minute sets or what was your.

What was your comedy career progression in the beginning?

Benny Darsow: Yeah. Yeah. For me, it was very brick on brick and that's just sort of funny. Just listening to you sort of talk about how quickly I think people can get good at this now, you know, with multiple shows a week, they might not be great.

You know, they, they might be predominantly to other comics, you know, for, for a while or. You know, just a scattering of sort of audience members. But, you know, it's been like that for a while here in Australia. Sorry, just to slightly digress. But Sydney, one of our probably bigger two scenes in the country.

We have Sydney and Melbourne that I would say they would be our biggest. That's that's a city that I've really sort of gravitated towards over the last kind of decade. That you could, you could. You could do five shows a night there, you know, and I look at that kind of learning curve, that trajectory that a newer comic can have now you know, with, with those kinds of resources versus, I remember looking at my, my diary you know, in those first couple of years when I was starting out in Adelaide and you'd be, you'd be doing well if you got two opportunities on stage in a month.

Oh, wow. Yeah. For real. Like it was, it was literally that kind of a, a pace that at the start, you know, you, you put this little Rhino gig and put a circle around it on, on this date. And then, you know, two and a half weeks later, you knew you had a, a spot at the Irish pub and you, you sort of see if your material was strong enough to do that.

Oh, wow. Yeah. So just to, just to completely. Completely different base. I think, I think, I think younger comics now would just be horrified at you know, how, how how early on or how, how much of an infancy the art form was in here you know, 20, 20 years ago. Now it's on, you know, it's on YouTube, it's on net.

It's on Netflix. It's on everything. We have all these podcasts so people can just listen to, you know, comics you know, behind the scenes, just, just talking about comedy. Like it's this, it's this thing now that's just so massively out in the open and accessible, isn't it? You know, like 20 years ago, Holy moly.

There was just Yeah, there was, there was, there was, there was very, there was very, very little of that. And, and so, you know, you ask about what was sort of the early kind of career path. I think it, it kind of, it wasn't a career path. It was just this kind of like fun thing, you know, like, like you can't make something out of.

It's something that it's not, you know and, and, you know, for better or worse, possibly for better, I would say it was just a very organic thing for me just to kind of, I was, I was a university, I was doing a commerce degree finance and marketing majors. So sort of very academic. I was playing a lot of golf.

I played pennant golf at a good level with a lot of friends who would go on to play professionally from that. So that was taking up a lot of my. Energy. And then I was also playing basketball. I went back to basketball pretty hard in the second half of my twenties. So I was just, I was just kind of living life and, and this thing was just kind of ticking along for the first couple of years in Adelaide where, where, where one of we're a capital city in Australia, but slightly smaller, maybe probably fifth or sixth biggest city.

So don't, don't picture yeah. a giant Melbourne or a Sydney, but we weren't a tiny little country town. It was just a, it was just a little safe harbor to kind of, you know, grow up. And so that was, that was really where sort of things started for me very, very organically. And it was probably about the three year mark, I'd say before before I was able to just start jumping over the border about a 50 minute flight to, to Melbourne and performing at some of their clubs and.

You know, taking a few steps forward there, but yes, certainly those first those first, those first couple of years, it was just. It was just a very it was just a very, very organic little process.

Carole Freeman: So you just, you enjoyed it, but you, and you did it as much as you, it was available to you, but there wasn't a ton of opportunity, but it sounds like you just, like you said, you organically just kind of progressed.

Do you remember a point where you thought, "this is something that I want to do full time"?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, yeah, that's, yeah, that's, that's, that's so interesting. Something just jumped into my head from, I'm going to say, I might've been doing it a year or something.

So I started when I was 20 on the, on the dot. I was at university at that time. And as I said, doing those other things as well on the side. And I remember I was in the city. I can, I can, I can remember exactly where it was on one of our sort of main little strips. Outside a particular cafe and a buddy of mine from high school who I just bumped into and who caught wind that I'd sort of started doing a little bit of stand up asked me something along the lines of, Oh, you know, how far do you want to take this?

And it was one of those moments where you get prompted to verbalize what you're, what you're feeling without having actually maybe done that to yourself before. And I just remember saying, I don't think I'm ever going to stop doing this. Yeah, yeah. So there was something obviously very, very early on where I knew that I'd found something that I loved doing.

It was obviously just in the extremely early stages of. Building a skill base and you have no idea how far to go, but I just knew early on whether this is something that, you know, I do once a month because it's so much fun and I have some beers with some people and it's this, you know, real electric little buzz or whether this is something I do end up.

Turning into my career and it, you know, goes wherever it goes. This is, this is something I cannot see myself ever not doing. So I, I, I distinctly remember that moment.

Carole Freeman: It is such a weird career, right? Because it's kind of the only one where. I mean, there are people that teach things a little bit and there are a few books out now, but it's really, you got to kind of figure it out on your own.

There's no college degree in it. There's no laid out career path and really everybody kind of makes it their own too. So it's. So hard, and I think that's part of why it makes it so addictive for people too, because it's like the the rush of gambling. You never know, you know, especially in the beginning when it's going to be good and when it's going to be bad and, and you just keep going and get hooked in.

Benny Darsow: Yeah, that, that, that's so true. And I, I think that's, I think that's one of the central appeals of it is there's, there's nothing that you have to do if you want to do whatever your version of comedy is. And you can get good enough at that. You're doing comedy.

Carole Freeman: Yeah.

Benny Darsow: And you know, you talk about some of those comedy courses early on and so forth.

Some of them can be, you know, extremely helpful and I think you know, ones that perhaps just Prompt you sort of how to structure things or at the very least just kind of maybe give you an introduction into the industry or, you know, a little more insight here or there. That, that can, that can definitely, definitely have value.

I would, I would totally agree with that. I feel like, I feel like once you've got that little footing though it's just so much along the lines of where you want to take it, isn't it? It's, it's such, it's such a unique thing, whether you, whether you have some kind of structural understanding or not.

If you're going to go anywhere with it, and if it's going to mean anything to you. It's going to be extremely self driven, isn't it?

Carole Freeman: Yeah.

Do you remember a time in the last 20 years where somebody wanted to book you for a time amount that you knew you didn't have yet?

And what did, what was your approach to?

That gig, that's funny.

Benny Darsow: I, I don't recall any specific moment like that, but we we have a slightly different setup here in in, in certain ways where we have a festival circuit in Australia. So you can, you can kind of go from like mid January through to almost kind of probably April doing Perth fringe world.

Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne Comedy Festival, and then dovetailing into Sydney Comedy Festival. And most if not all of those festivals are application based. So, they're not curated. If you think you've got a show, you can nominate that. You've obviously got to pay your registration fee, pay your venue hire, pay your marketing, all of that kind of business.

And then put the time aside to... Perform the shows and hopefully make a kind of a return on them. That's that's worthwhile. And I, I reckon I've definitely had certain festivals where I've, I've done the work, so to speak over the last year and I've got a really good, fresh kind of body of material, even if it's not completely brand new, it's a, it's a.

It's a substantial fresh show for, you know, that particular city that I didn't have the last time I was there. And I've had some terrific festivals where I've sold good numbers. It's been worthwhile. You know, the, the audiences have been great. You can feel that you create a buzz. And then I've, I've definitely had other festivals where I've overextended in You know, telling the market that I've got a new show and I've rocked up there and quite possibly in the back of my mind known that maybe I'm about half done with what I really should have.

It's crazy how directly that will correlate with the audience buzz not being there, the numbers not being there. The show substance not being there as well. It's almost like it kind of, it, it, it finds you out before you realize that that you've maybe overextended.

Carole Freeman: So tell me more about that, you know, putting on a show within the festival.

Cause like you said, it sounds very different than, you know, what's going on in the States and, so basically to be part of the festival, it sounds like you say, I'm going to put on a show and you're the headliner.

Do you have a, like an opening act as well? And then you run for several nights or

tell me more about what a festival looks like.

Benny Darsow: Yeah. So you will, yeah, you'll typically put on your own show. Some people might have an opening act might sort of have, you know, a newer comic perhaps. Do five or 10 minutes, and I've definitely done that at certain times, and I've also been that, that newer comic to a few people earlier on, and it, and it can actually be a really helpful thing just to almost kind of You know, show someone what's involved because it's such a, it's such a different beast.

If you're just used to, you know, rocking up and a promoter has kind of you know, done the work to get a crowd in there and, you know, someone else has handled the ticketing and someone else has created the relationship with the venue and all of those other things that you don't really see when you just rock up knowing that you've got a little spot and that's your job.

It's, it's so massively. You know, eye opening and, and I think one of the things that shows you is that being on stage and performing is like the visible fun tip of the iceberg, like, you know, if you're gonna, if you're gonna you know, be responsible for producing something, you know, those, those those moments or that hour or however long it is that you're on stage, that's almost the relief at the at the end of it all.

Okay. Yeah. You know, there's there's so much involved, isn't it? So, so I think that I think that process of of having an opener can you know, definitely be you know, beneficial to sort of open someone's eyes. And I would, I would say that the festival model that we have here that is obviously a little different to what, at least what I've sort of seen in the U.

S. where you more kind of work on, on building an act. You know, that you can sort of take around the clubs, you know, something that makes its way to being sort of, you know, bulletproof and repeatable, et cetera. The festivals are a really good opportunity here for people to get that stage time, perhaps early on in their career.

You know, you might only be sort of two, three, four years in and all of a sudden you're, as you say, you're booking in you know, six nights a week for a month in a particular city and you know that you've got the best part of an hour on stage. You know, that that's a huge positive in, in, in that sense you know, there's no faking stage time and and that can, you know, really help you move forward.

And I think a creative deadline like that as well, where, you know, you know, in a 12 month cycle that you essentially need to have. You know, another you know, 40, 50 minutes of content, however it is that you structure that, whether you're a jokey person or a story person, that, that, that can be a very, very good thing just to just, just to have sitting there that, that pushes you creatively I think, I think, I think the downsides sometimes and, you know, more experienced comics will, will sometimes have a little bit of a joke about it under their breath is you sort of see people who are, you know, Absolutely.

Nowhere near ready to be presenting 50 minutes of of comedy on stage you know, pushing themselves in those environments. But you know, I think yeah, once again, it's, it's one of those things where you, you, you, you get the reflections of where you're at. If you've got a powerhouse comic, who's, who's coming to town, who's got a great 50 and built up a profile over a few years and, and you know, You know, in a club comedy scene, their level is exceptional.

They're going to, they're going to perform to a lot of people and they're going to have a very worthwhile month. And if you're someone who's overextended and you know it's, it's perhaps a challenge that's slightly ahead of you, but you've done well to push yourself to do, well, you, you might find yourself performing to some family and friends who live in that city and you know, grinding out the the month that way.

So I, I do think it's self regulated.

Carole Freeman: Wow. It's so fascinating how different the, the scene is there and just the, the progression of, of the career and how that's very, very different. So so you mentioned, you know, so part of the festival then would be producing one of these events and episode two, I talked with Cory Michaelis and he gave some tips as far as, you know, one of the things he recommended was having.

You know, or a newer comic have to produce a show because it gives you a lot of insights as to what it's like to be a producer and what goes into putting on a show.

Do you have some tips for producing a comedy show that has a good turnout and is profitable?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, that's a good question.

I think, I think the, I think the profitability thing is out outside of your control. That's what I've learned. I've had festivals that have been very profitable and I've had festivals where I have Worked hard and made absolutely nothing. I, I, I think, I think that advice is just really good in general, though, just for all of the things that you learn.

You learn very quickly that you, you, you, you get it, you get them, you get them, you get a much deeper insight into what has gone on. You know, prior to you arriving 15 minutes before showtime, when you go back to doing the clubs or, you know, a little open mic or an independent room that someone produces.

And I think it just. Well, it's, it's, it's, it's, it should be humbling because there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes and, you know, we're all, what am I trying to say? I don't think you want to, you don't want to sort of have a go at anyone for not sort of knowing what you don't know early on.

You know what I mean? With there's so much stuff that we're taking in, even just being on stage and how do I interact with an audience and how do you try to sort of consistently produce laughs, etc. I mean, you know, that that's obviously the thing very early on that you're focusing on. But I think the more you can learn about all of this other stuff behind the scenes You talk about how to generate an audience, you realize at a certain point, as well as just needing to sort of be in a position where you can consistently do well on stage, you need to build an audience.

And it's like, holy moly, there's an entire another, excuse me, there's another entire aspect to what it is that you need to do to make it head in that sort of viable professional direction and how much work is required on that. Okay. So we're setting up social media accounts. We're now filming gigs.

Okay. We're now purchasing a camera. We're now learning how. A camera's audio plugs into a sound system. We're now learning how to use video editing software. We're learning what kind of content people like us to put out online to, you know, keep them looped into our journey. And how, you know, that stuff is extremely important.

You know, early on, perhaps before you've got a, a, a bigger platform that's handled a little more independently, like perhaps you're on a TV, a TV show or something like that. So, you know, even that, even that just could blow someone's mind for, for three years. It's like, you know, go and go and let people know somehow that what you're doing is now worth watching and compete with everybody else.

Already doing that.

Carole Freeman: It's so true. We have to wear so many hats now. I mean, probably a huge difference 20 years ago versus now. Now you got to do, like you said,

all the social media stuff and you got to edit the clips and you got to produce that and put all that out.

You didn't have to do any of that 20 years ago.

Benny Darsow: Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's, it's it's crazy. And I think the game changed massively on that as well. Like, you know, I really. I really do come from a generation where at least for the first few years, the equation for us was get good enough that you sort of got picked up on some kind of TV or radio and then that platforms you out there.

And because the channels were so limited for people to kind of, you know, watch stand up or or yeah, just to consume content. Once you kind of had that platform. You'd go into a festival and just sell it out because you were so and so off of the so and so show. Do you know what I mean? Now there's what are we talking like a thousand times the, the, the number of platforms, you know, traditional media doesn't have the same impact.

And I, I, I definitely think there were sort of times maybe a few years ago where I was almost sort of still kind of operating that old paradigm. I think Very fortunately at the essence of that was working on my craft. So, you know, you're telling yourself if you work on what you're doing, you know, those kinds of opportunities will present and that'll be your key to.

Profile and you know, perhaps it didn't work out like that, but at the very least you're still getting better. So I, I don't think, I don't think maybe on my part being slow to react to that was a total waste. I still think it's kind of, it's found its way to where it's going. But, you know, you get, you get comics coming in, let's say, 10 years later than me.

So about 10 years ago, who are younger, they've grown up with a mobile phone in their hands since they were 10. You know, they, they just kind of get all of this kind of stuff and, you know, a year or two in and they're developing like monster social media followings just because they kind of understand it.

And, we have a, so just a slight, yeah, just to slightly sort of articulate this with an example, we have a, we have a comic here. I won't even sort of mention names or anything like that. I performed with him in a club a year or two ago. I think he's about five or six years into his career and he just got He just got the whole, I'm going to film crowd work that I do and I'm going to put it up online and he was very, very savvy with all of that kind of stuff.

So he's not even necessarily at like a club headlining level, but kind of have a repeatable product that he's putting out there. He's making, depending on whose reports you believe he's making somewhere between two and 4 million a year now in Australia, six or seven years into his career. He's never been backed by TV.

He's never been backed by radio and he's not even a genuine you know, club headliner, so to speak. He's just someone who is good and he's funny and I really enjoy watching him, but someone who sort of got how the game kind of changed and was an early adopter and was a very competent early adopter.

And now he's sitting there with. A studio, a team of people that come to every gig, he's doing his own theater shows. The audience are given a bunch of questions before each show so that it almost kind of fuels you know, the type of audience interaction he's trying to get on camera. And you look at that and you go.

That's just a, that's just literally a completely different game. Yeah, that, that we, you know, could choose, I guess, if we want to try and play and you can go about this thing in a, in a completely different way to even just 20 years ago.

Carole Freeman: Oh, it's so true. Yeah. And it, it, you know, I mean, I think a lot of it has to do with, you know, like we're talking about the pandemic and how that forced a big change with social media and.

It, you know, it used, it's so different. I mean, like you said, 20 years ago, the goal was like, if I can get on a sitcom, I made as a comedian and, you know, even when I was starting, you know, five or six years ago, the advice was like, pick your home club, go spend all your time there and you're going to work your way up from their open mic.

And then hopefully you can start hosting and featuring on the weekends there. And even that's not as, as. Available anymore. A lot of the clubs post pandemic don't do open mics anymore. And so, like you said, the social media has been just a game changer for those younger people that have that all figured out and, and

It's a totally different path that wasn't even there five years ago.

Benny Darsow: Yeah, that's so true. And when you just sort of said that pathway within a home club of, you know, I'm doing the five minute spot, I'm now the middle bracket. I'm, I'm now the host. I'm now the headliner. That's a hundred percent. The, the, the, the structure that I grew up, I grew up with, you know, and, and now it, it, it's like go and build 2 million followers on social media, do stand up comedy for 2 years, and then tour your theatre show regionally.

Carole Freeman: Ha ha Does a part of you go like, it's not fair, it's not fair. Ha ha.

Benny Darsow: Well, I think thankfully, I, I'm enough of a nerd about the craft that I still value just... To be blunt, getting good at the craft and that means, that means a lot to me or the pursuit of that means a lot to me. And I'm, I'm, I'm making, I'm making enough money, you know, that I can absolutely already do this viably.

And I'm, you know, paying down a home loan on a house I should own in the next probably, I don't know, three years maybe. So I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm doing fine. It just sort of hasn't been that meteoric kind of you know, sort of trajectory that some of. You know, these, these, these younger comics have but, but I, I, I honestly, I mean, you know, who, who wouldn't want perhaps, you know, some of the some of the, some of the call it success, I guess in general, that, that, that, that they're sort of creating that early.

But I think that there's a part of me that, that, that knows that there are no shortcuts with the, the creative side of this, the craft side of it, understanding people, understanding audiences and I think I think once you're once you're making enough to viably do it and and also you sort of feel confident that you can continue to, you know, make more of it and become more successful.

I think once you sort of, you know, program like that, it's, it's all about, it's all about the, the craft and I, I wouldn't exchange that for, for, for perhaps being someone who you know, has been sort of thrown into that kind of world that quickly and possibly that ill, that ill equipped you know, where, where their fans are like, Oh man, we love this person and the skits they do online or.

You know, their character or whatever. And then, you know, they're in that live show and seven minutes in, it's like, holy moly, like this just doesn't have the nuts and bolts of a, you know, a seasoned standup, that kind of a thing.

Carole Freeman: Yeah, it's and I like how you, you, you organically just threw in the name of the.

So the get good, you said you're just, you want to see them get getting good. So like, Oh, good. The name that I chose for this, which again, I'll give a shout out to actually Cavin Eggleston helped me pick a name for this, but the get good podcast. So that's good. It comes up organically. So it's a good title.

Helping people get good. That's what we're here about. So so do you want,

Benny Darsow: so sorry, sorry, sorry, just, just one other thing that you mentioned there as well, you know, when, when you sort of do have that kind of home club and you're progressing maybe a little more through those sort of traditional pathways is you get to get good by watching, by watching people who are 10, 20, 30 years, you know further down the track than you are, you know, and I mean like we can all sort of watch, Get stuff online and, and that, that, you know, that, that definitely sort of has value, but, you know, just

When you're in a club, you feel the atmosphere that's in there that night. You can see all of the things that are happening, and then you get to see firsthand, a master of the craft work that. And you get to see that night in, night out, where those variables completely changed. And you get to see how someone shuffles those variables, produces the environment they want very quickly, and then takes an audience from there.

You know, I think that's one thing that people who perhaps have that sort of success early on with having developed their own audience. And then all of a sudden they're out there on the road and maybe they're, you know, generous enough to sort of take a newer comic out there for a few minutes, you know, and a little bit of company that they don't, they don't get to say that they, they get to have their own journey of sort of interacting with their audiences and, and kind of building their skills.

But you're not getting to learn firsthand off of. Off of people who you know, have, have, have got themselves so much further down the track in terms of the actual craft.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Just to get in, to see all the different styles and the variety that you get hanging out at a club and watching all the shows that you possibly can.

Yeah. I mean, even before I got started comedy, that was my favorite thing to do. I would go we lost a lot of the clubs in the Seattle scene, but parlor live was one that died actually. A year before the pandemic, I guess they saw it coming, but I would go and, and watch all the shows they produce.

So it was, it was kind of the first time that I learned that I saw the host and I would see them several nights in a row. And I'm like, wait, why is he telling the same jokes he told last night? I was just, you know, just as an audience member, it kind of like ruined it for me a little bit. Like I started to see behind the curtain of wait, the magic is getting ruined.

I just saw how the trick is made, you know?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, this, this art and the science component as well to it.

Carole Freeman: Well, and it's it's also when you start to see people that do crowd work a lot. So I got to be involved in the world series of comedy in the Phoenix satellite this year. And Joe Lauer's is a spoiler for those of you that are going to go, but like.

He after the comics perform that are in the festival, then they have a closer comic that does about 10 minutes and then Joe goes up to announce the winners. But he also then just kind of goes into this crowd work bit. And so the audience doesn't really know that that's what he's going to do. But.

You know, while crowd work is so popular right now, they love it and he's a killer at it, but I got to watch six shows of him doing that because I just came and watched all the shows that were at our satellite here in Phoenix. And I had heard this before that crowd work isn't like the audience feels like you just made this up like they see you with your hat backwards and the comic says some comment about that.

And it sounds like that's the first time they ever said it. And you were the inspiration for that joke. But it turns out that, you know, in their tool belt of crowd work jokes, they've, they've got the joke for the guy with the backwards hat that anytime they see somebody in the audience, they'll say that.

And so I got to see that unveiled as I got to see Joe do six nights of crowd worker, six different shows of crowd work. I got to see that he had the, you know, the joke for this guy and the joke for this thing, and I won't spoil his jokes, but it was great though, because the audience felt like it was so organic.

And as a comic, I got to see. How that's all crafted to make the audience feel like they're so special. And he's so good at what he's doing. He's making all this up and, but he, you know, he obviously a master at what he's doing too. So anyways, that was a more of that, like getting the experience of seeing the behind the scenes and you know, how, what, what's the phrase, how to get to see

how the, the sauce is made or the donuts are made.

Benny Darsow: Yeah, that's so true. What you sort of saying, you see, you see the, you see the layers where it's like this, this scripted material. And then there's in pro that you've essentially rehearsed or you've, you've established previously that you can bring out that looks like it's in the moment. And then there's genuine improv in the moment.

And so it's like right there, that's, that's, that's three tiers of. Of what you're actually delivering that the audience doesn't necessarily know which one's which or yeah, what's just for them?

Carole Freeman: Yeah, it's Crickette's comment. I love watching crowd work definitely working on that formula. So do you Benny, do you do much crowd work?

do you have tips for How to develop crowd work?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, I love, I love doing crowd work. I love, I love a well structured joke for sure. But I think, I think the crowd work stuff is. It's it's it's the it's the really fun stuff because it's you know, it's just genuinely there in the in the moment.

I certainly appreciate as well. Like what you're just referring to those bits of crowd work that sort of get established over times where you, you know, sort of responses that you're going to have to certain situations. I think that stuff can really help as well. That's that's good to have in your arsenal.

But you know, I think if you can just genuinely be in there and be present with an audience. The platform that that then creates, you know, to sell your material is, is, is, is huge. I mean, you, you, you, you get the laughs off that beautiful improvised moment, which is special in themselves. But I think what people don't necessarily realize is that connection that you're creating with the audience when you're doing that, the, the foundation that that then creates for you to be like, Oh, okay guys.

And now, you know, here's such and such, which I was sort of going to do anyway. Regardless of who was in this audience tonight, their receptivity to that is, is, is, is so much higher. It's, it's, I think it's almost like night and day sometimes.

Carole Freeman: So you're saying you'll ask a question that then leads into a joke that you were going to tell is

Benny Darsow: yeah, possibly, possibly like whatever the way is that you do it, whether it's asking a question or, or whatever it is, or whether it's just sort of being there with them and kind of, you know, vibing off them, whatever it is, but just to sort of kind of create that create that sort of personal rapport where they are aware that you are in that room with them.

Yeah, whether it's as direct as a sort of a question on something and then a response back or whether it sort of happens a little more organically, sort of, however it is. It's, it's almost like, I think, I think it's, it's the X factor that, that, that can make it a good set. Great. And yeah, and, and, and be the bridge that you need.

Yeah, with a, with, with, with an audience where, you know, maybe, maybe people are struggling and the audience sort of aren't particularly kind of invested in anything and then you come along and. And you just create that connection. It's like, you're the person they're going to listen to, you know, even if your jokes aren't structurally as good as the last person's.

Carole Freeman: So it sounds like you're what you see crowd work doing, at least for you, is that helping you connect with the audience, maybe if there's a disconnect or just in general, to help them feel like. Hey, I'm here with you. We're doing this together.

Benny Darsow: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I mean, it's obviously it's just a personal thing, but for me, I love it when stand up is Conversational and you know, that doesn't mean that you just kind of aimlessly ramble with unstructured stuff I mean the illusion is that that's kind of what you're doing.

It's still Well structured stuff, but can you present that in a way that appears conversational? Can you get into your joke in a way that appears conversational? Can you transition it smoothly from you know, crowd work where you genuinely are producing improvised laughs and then almost kind of, Oh, by the by, you know, here's this thing, which you know is a really well structured bit that has six strong lines in it that goes for two minutes.

And then by the end of that, The audience has kind of found their way sort of so organically off of what everybody knows was improvisation to start with. And they're possibly sitting there going, holy moly, like that last three minutes was just made up. And then maybe you do that 10 times over a half hour headline set and people walk up to you and just go.

Was that whole thing made up? You know what I mean? Like, I mean, obviously there would be people who would be a little more comedy savvy, like what you sort of said when you saw, you know, those, those performers night in, night out, sort of working the stuff. I'm, I'm not saying people are completely sort of blind or oblivious, but it's certainly sort of Yeah.

Has that very in the moment feel, I think if you can, if you can create that and, and, and I think, you know, on those nights when it goes well, there's an extra degree of all there where an audience is like, holy moly, you just kind of, you just kind of found the beat of that bouncing ball on the, you know, on the karaoke machine and you just kind of wrote it, you know whereas in reality it was, it was quite possibly 10 things that you absolutely knew you were going to do before you got on stage.

But. Yeah. And you found a way for each of them to kind of find its moment to, to sort of, you know, enter the set.

Carole Freeman: Hmm. Cause I, cause I've, you know, attended different workshops that kind of talk about a structure of crowd work. And so do you, and it sounds like you've, you've, you've kind of hinted at having some kind of a structure to it, but also it sounds like you want it to be.

Organic or a lot of times it is organic for you. Do you, do you have something that you're willing to share as far as like you know, do you think about like, okay, so I'm going to do this five minute opener and then I'm going to do a little crowd work or is it always organic? Is it something, you know,

what cues you to start doing a little bit of crowd work?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, it's a good question. Yeah, I'm not, I'm not even, I'm not even sure I sort of have a formula. And I think, I think, honestly, I think some nights, you know, like, that the energy can be there that you do walk out on stage. And if you just kind of like. Bring a bring a good sort of presence and vibe.

You can almost go straight into material and then, you know, sort of the moments of connection will kind of spring off of that. Honestly, I think, I think sometimes that happens. I think, I think sometimes the energy is such that you don't really need to kind of have a, a catalyst to create that connection, you know, it just kind of, it just kind of finds its way there.

And then, you know, perhaps having done a joke or two, if you do sort of then respond to something that happens or, you know, a moment. Kind of organically arises or something like that, that you deal with in the moment and they can see that you've dealt with in the moment. Well, then, you know, you've, you've kind of found that gear.

I think, I think, I think that's absolutely one of the ways in which it can happen. And then I think, yeah, maybe sort of more along the lines of your, your question. There are other nights where you need to kind of bring that catalyst to, to create that connection. Maybe it's kind of, maybe it is asking a particular question or you know, singling out a particular person or something.

Just in a way that brings maybe, you know, yourself or the, the audience into the moment I've had, I've had nights where I felt really kind of like sleepy or something like that. Or, you know, if you feel like you, you feel like you're just a little bit elsewhere or your hamsters just a little bit slow or something, and then it's like.

For me, it's just like find someone in the room to engage with. And then all of a sudden it's like, you know, you you're in a, you're in a conversation you know, there's a natural rhythm, there's a back and forth, it brings you into the moment you have to sort of react. And I don't know, it's almost like.

It's almost like just kind of, you know, finding something that, that, that, that sort of ignites, ignites you and sort of simultaneously shows the audience that you're not afraid to kind of directly engage with them. Whereas, you know, perhaps on a night like that, where you feel a bit cloudy or something, if you don't go to that and you maybe just kind of go through the motions of your.

Your content. Maybe, maybe on that kind of a night, you don't deliver it as well. And the audience don't sort of feel particularly connected to you and you walk off and it's like, Oh, that was a bit sort of six out of 10 kind of thing. You know what I mean? But, but just sort of accepting that for whatever reason, and for, you know, whatever might've happened that day, you're just a little bit kind of woolly and then going, yeah, yeah, that's great.

But I'm just going to kind of. I'm just going to sort of spark this moment up here. It's almost like it's a, it's a safety net. I think it's, it's a safety net that brings you back into the moment.

Carole Freeman: Hmm. And maybe I'm asking questions that you've never thought that deeply about. It's just what you do, right?


Benny Darsow: Yeah. I mean, how do you, how do you do a lot of crowd work?

Carole Freeman: No, no, but I've, I've taken workshops from different people. And one of them was like, you know, kind of prewriting some responses that you would say, you know, like again, like thinking about somebody with the hat backwards, I might think of like.

You know, different responses and then thinking of it kind of a leading question of like, I haven't thought this far through, but like, you know, Oh, like asking some question of you about your hat and then knowing that you're going to answer it, like in a way that's going to be this way or this way, you're thinking of possible responses and part of it can be, you just go out and genuinely talk to enough people that you spontaneously come up with something funny and then you're like, okay, I don't remember that for next time is something that I could possibly say.

I You know, I've been told that, you know, ask three questions and try to get to a laugh if after three questions, you know, change, you know, pick a different person or something like that. Basically, it's like that person is not going to lead you anywhere. And so pick, pick a different topic. So anyways, I've been to workshops that like have a formulaic version of, of teaching crowd work.

I'm just right now at a point of like, I just want to work on. My core jokes and getting those good and, and I, I'm not at a place where I feel like I need a strong crowd work set or I feel like that's more of like, like headliner level is somebody who's gonna need to have strong crowd work ability doing, you know, hosting set or guest set and things like that.

It's like, where, what, where do I need to have crowd workability right now, is just my opinion anyways.

Benny Darsow: y yeah. Yeah. I get you. Well, I think whenever, or if you decide to do it, Yeah, but back yourself that you'd be great at it. I mean, you, you, you host the podcast and you know how to converse and ask questions and listen to answers and use that to go on to the next thing.

I think crowd works very similar. Like you do have certain things where you might have heard a particular response before and you can sort of just kind of, you know, wedge, wedge something in there. But I think, I think often the best crowd work is just kind of being present. Present in that moment, allowing it to go where it goes.

Quite often the audience member will be the person that sort of brings the little nugget of gold or the moment of weirdness or something. Mm-hmm. And if you can just be in that moment and, and and, and allow it to sort of be whatever it is I, I think, I think that's the best stuff. And, and one other thing just quickly with, with sort of comics doing crowd work, it's like if, if you just think.

It's essentially just a conversation. Mm-hmm. Most of us are probably gonna be reasonable at a conversation, even if we're a bit awkward. That could probably possibly a, a add to add to the appeal of doing crowd work if you're a little bit of an awkward kind of person. Just momentarily lost my train of thought.

Oh yeah. In terms of, of re reaching for something sort of funny. It's like you're, you're a comic. You naturally see the world in a, in a funny way.

Back yourself to have that conversation that just happened to be other people watching that conversation and trust that your natural funny way of perceiving and spinning the world will somehow should have shined through, if that makes sense.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Yeah. And now that you, you say that I'm thinking back to like, Oh yeah, I've done crowd work multiple times, but it was in the moment where somebody had said something in the crowd and I was reacting to that. So you're right. I, I actually naturally have done that. And I guess on my mind of thinking of crowd work is this intentional, especially now with all the clips that everybody puts out with it, it seems like it's its own thing that, you know, it's a section of your act is crowd work, but I definitely have had moments of it spontaneously that have, you know, I'm thinking of, you know, one thing specifically, but it's like without, you know, I'd have to say the joke and the punchline and somebody, lady in the crowd actually reacted and she goes, Eww!

And it was like, and I said, Oh, eww, like, are you, and again, like, it's not going to make sense or be funny without the whole joke, but it's like, you know you know, I was like, Oh, are you delicate little flower? You can't handle that, you know, like, and so There are definitely times that I've done that.

You're right. You're right. And I, I took an improv class for a while because one of our local club owners here Dave Specht he's one of the best crowd work people I've ever seen. And he thinks he's not a comedian. He's so hilarious though, but he'll he's done improv for like 25 years. And that inspired me like, okay, so if that's what good crowd work comes from.

I want to get better, you know, learn some improv techniques and things like that. But I decided I'm not going to go do improv classes for 25 years. It'll have to come a different way too. So, but I I've liked to watch that as well. And I've noticed another local comic that I love watching is Tara Shakespeare and she's phenomenal at crowd work.

And I've kind of watched, and I don't want to give away, you know, the formula that I've seen, but she'll like you know, give people a name, like she'll, she'll give certain people in the audience a specific name. And then every time she refers back to them, that you get another laugh. So just, it's fun to watch and dissect and.

Figure out people's unique way of doing it. Cause the first, first time I saw her do it, I'm like, Oh my gosh, this is the funniest thing I've ever seen. I don't know what she's doing. What's the magic trick. And then after I watched enough of it, I was able to go, Oh, I see what she's doing here. And. It's really cool, I think, to kind of figure those things out.

Absolutely. So Crickette is asking,

how do you handle hecklers?

Benny Darsow: How do you handle hecklers?

I think I think. First and foremost, try to create a dynamic as best you can where people are comfortable with you and comfortable interacting with you in a way where they're not looking at you on stage thinking, Oh, the only reason this person up there is interacting with us down here is to make fun of us.

that could possibly get them a little defensive or maybe a little aggressive in the case of someone wanting to heckle. You know, can, can you disarm that in a way where people more feel like they're just casually meeting a new acquaintance at a barbecue? So I would say, yeah, first and foremost, you're going to have lots less hecklers and lots more positive interaction with an audience.

If you can kind of try and sort of create that, and then I think if you genuinely do find yourself in a position where there's a heckler, just be present with it. Is it a heckler because they're super drunk and then all you have to do is essentially kind of pause and let themselves let them shoot themselves in the foot.

Is it a heckler because it's someone who's. I don't know an idiot in which case, you know, you kind of let them sort of find their way into a A dead end in front of an audience and realize that comedy is a lot harder than they have any idea. Or is it a, is it a heckler that you deserve because you genuinely have got up there with a bad energy and you know, and someone's, someone's telling you something that you need to know.

Like, you know what I mean? What is it?

Carole Freeman: Hmm. Interesting.

Yeah. I think the, as you progress and work more in clubs and professional settings, the hecklers are less of a thing that people have to. Deal with, but I've also seen some things that even at the clubs, sometimes they can get out of hand. I, I have a friend that, she's like, no, I'm not heckling. I'm helping.

So sometimes, you know, people just think that the comedian needs their help.

Benny Darsow: Yeah, just yeah, sorry. I just, I just lost my train of thought of that. I'm sorry.

Carole Freeman: So I want to ask

doing comedy on cruise ships.

So you spend about two weeks a month performing on cruise ships. So let's talk, let's cover tackle that next.

You know, how did that come to be? How did you get your first gig there? What's it like, do you feel. Claustrophobic being on a ship for two weeks, or are you, is it several different ships during that time? Cause I've, I've been on one cruise in my life and I kind of think of like, what would it be like to be on a cruise ship for two weeks at a time?

So tell, tell me all about it.

Tell me, tell me everything about working on cruise ships, the RV that you're in currently actually bigger than your.

Benny Darsow: It's an entirely different reality out there on the water.

Carole Freeman: Oh, I bet is is that your room that you get to stay in a cruise ship is actually smaller than the RV you're in currently, right?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, it is. Let's have a look at this. Yeah, it's probably it's probably similar. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, a week at a time out there and you get your little porthole, which gives you your connection with vitamin D and you know, the outside world and.

Yeah, it's a, it's a total, it's a total bubble. I think in all honesty, it's it's been an extremely kind of helpful thing for me for the last I would say about sort of five years. I think 2016 was the first time I went out. On, on, on a cruise and we lost the full two years with, with COVID.

It took a long time for that industry to bounce back, obviously. And yeah, it, it, in Australia, I mean, we have about sort of, you know, probably five kind of main cities where you could you know, rotate between good comedy clubs. We have Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, where I am right now for this week Perth, and then my hometown of Adelaide.

You can do a bit of work at certain stages of the year as well. It's just, it's, it's, it's not big enough to just constantly loop the cities. So I'm sort of at a point where I will headline or host whatever. You know, the, the, the good clubs in those, in those cities but we're, we're not like the States in the sense that there's, you know, 50 odd States and you know, possibly a couple of two or three, even, you know top tier comedy clubs in, in each of those cities where, you know, you could do them all and not loop back in a year kind of thing you know, we'll have a little run.

I feel like every kind of, I don't know, maybe sort of, Two to three times a year, you can knock on the door of these clubs without sort of overstaying your welcome, if that makes sense in terms of, you know, coming back as a, as a somewhat sort of fresh product and something that they can sort of, you know, put their marketing behind.

And so I get what I'm sort of trying to say is that the lack of work at that, in those environments is not there because I'm not at that level, it is, it is, it is there in, in the, in the, You know, the predominant, the prominent roles you know, the hosting and the headlining but it's just the volume isn't there.

And so the ships kind of coming along where, you know, you can do one to two weeks a month out there. And it honestly just feels like an endless supply of those audiences. You know, it doesn't feel like you're burning anything. It very rarely feels like you're performing to someone, you know, for, for a second time kind of thing here, here in Australia, as someone who.

I love that club style of comedy. I'll definitely occasionally do festivals, but I just love that whole thing of rocking up audiences. They're 30, 40, 50 minutes that that's what really appeals to me and sort of building my skills in that environment. The cruises have been a substitute for, Hey, excuse me one second.

Thanks so much. Thanks. See the cruises have been a substitute for us not having. you know, more comedy clubs. And I, I, yeah, I value them massively. If it weren't for them, I would, I would still just, I mean, I was making a living before the cruises came along off of comedy, but you would absolutely be dropping down to the B, the B minus the C plus rooms around the, around the country to sort of make ends meet, or there would have to be a real kind of shift in focus, perhaps more to the corporate market.

You know, where to sort of make the income that you need, you have to sort of tailor your services to, you know, hosting events and, and then all of a sudden, you know, your comedy is operating within the parameters of what, you know, so and so from HR thinks is funny or isn't funny kind of thing, you know and I mean, that, that's, that's absolutely something you could do.

No judgment on that, but I just want to get really good at comedy. And I think that, you know, the more environments I can be where the parameters are, are the ones that the audience gives you and not someone else, you know, telling you what the boundaries are they're, they're the environments I want to, I want to work in.

So I'm very, very appreciative of, appreciative of the ships at this kind of phase of my career.

Carole Freeman:

How did you get the first cruise ship comedy gig?

Did you apply? Did you, somebody you knew referred you in?

Benny Darsow: One of our cruise lines here is exclusively booked by a particular agency, and that is the agency that is the main promoter of comedy in Brisbane. It's called the sit down comedy club. So I'm actually working for them just by pure chance this weekend.

I really only get about one opportunity a year to come up here to Brisbane and work their club. But I had sort of been working there, I guess, by that stage for probably seven or eight years and, you know, had literally come up and started with, you know, five minute spots. And so they'd seen me progress from that to, you know, doing the middle bracket to hosting, to doing their split 30 minute headline, to being the solo headline at 45 minutes, which is basic requirements for what you need.

you need to do a 45 minute theater show with, with no MC. And I guess enough versatility within those 45 minutes to handle a range of sort of in, in you know, environments or sort of situations. So you probably need more than 45 minutes to do 45 minutes so that, yeah, essentially they'd sort of seen me from the start.

And then it was just sort of a natural tipping point. I think I walked around to the office on a Tuesday morning or something one week that I was in Brisbane and had a couple of coffees in my hand and they said, Do you want to do cruise ships? And I said, some people love them. Some people hate them. Do you want to just go out there and see what you think?

So it just organically happened for me.

Carole Freeman: Well, that's perfect. And so you're doing, when you're on the ship,

are you doing one show a night or multiple shows a night?

Benny Darsow: Yeah. So it's, it's, it's, it's crazy, but on the, on the P and O line, you'll typically be on there for about a week and they'll get you on for maybe the last three or four days of the cruise.

And then the first three or four days of the next cruise. So it's a different bunch of passengers and you're required to do one. one night of performing for each of those passengers. It sort of, for whatever reason, pre COVID, it seemed like you'd just do a 45 minute set in the theater. That can be anywhere between about 500 and a thousand seats, depending on which ship you're on.

And, and so you would just sort of do two nights of performing across the week. But now they're actually they're actually sort of getting you to double up. So we get, we get paid a little more as well, which is good. But it also just gives you more stage time and a bit more to do out there. You, you do one night of performing for each cruise, but they'll get you to do two shows with maybe sort of an hour break in between the two of them.

So that's kind of how that works at the moment. Yeah.

Carole Freeman: So two, two seatings in one night, basically then. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, interesting. So, and then I've heard that when you're working on a ship, you're not allowed, like in your off time, you're not allowed to go out and use any of the amenities or anything. Do you have, so do you have to stay in your room besides those two performances?


Benny Darsow: On,

on the P& O line No, it's pretty, it's pretty liberal.

You know, you, you wouldn't want to sort of find yourself back in a cabin at the end of the night with a, with a passenger that would possibly end your contract. Frowned upon. But, but I've got pretty, I've got pretty much free access to, you know, any of the kind of.

Passenger areas. I'm allowed to use the gym and the bars and the restaurants and absolutely allowed to encourage to kind of socialize with passengers. You know, like you're this kind of, you know, guest entertainer, I guess out there and you know, some of them might might like to kind of have a chat with you here or there.

So I can, I can definitely be active out there. I'm actually just about to start working as of July. So in about July. Two and a half weeks. I'm about to start working on the carnival ships as well, which I know are really big in the U. S. out of Miami. We have a couple of them stationed in Australia now as well.

I just started to do them. I think I've done about two or three cruises before COVID. I just had a little contract with them that, that was just starting up and obviously that, that got, that got stopped when COVID hit. And that's just rebooting now. And that's the, that's a different requirement altogether.

The, the, the pay. Is in US dollars. So for here in Australia that works out really favorably and, and probably works out to about twice as much as, as what I get on P& O. But you work a lot harder. The cruises are typically more like about four days rather than being out there for about seven days and they'll get you to do.

A minimum of one show per day, sometimes two, and you're doing more like a little kind of 200 seat comedy club rather than a big main theater and typically about a half hour set bit. The basic requirement for, for the carnival is that you have three different half hour sets and one of them has to be able to be performed at, you know, two o'clock in the afternoon to a family friendly environment where there could be kids there.

And from what I can recall about doing that environment, you're sort of asking about, you know, what kind of access to facilities you have or what your routines like on the ship. That one's a lot more formal. You go on there, you know, to work, you wear a name badge as soon as you step out of your cabin.

There would definitely be, you know, times when you're not allowed in sort of certain restaurants, you know, you're, you're, you're an employee, your cabins a lot smaller. It's an internal cabin. I know all this stuff sounds pointless, but it's, it's like being, being based in a little broom cupboard where you don't have, you know, sunlight because you're there to work as opposed to, you know, the other cruise line where five days out of a week, you're essentially a passenger being given a holiday and, you know, you're a little bit of a peacock, but.

Yeah. Yeah. But, you know, on a professional front, you sort of, you're not, you're not being asked to work as much and you're not being paid as much. So it's sort of two different, two different kinds of gears. If that, if that kind of makes sense.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Oh, that's really cool. I love all the details of that and the, the, the contrast between the two.

So yeah, cause I was like, it would be cool one day to do it, but also if you had to stay in your room when you weren't performing, like the fun of a cruise ship is, you know, socializing, partying, hanging at the pool and the hot tub and. And yeah, like you said, living in a broom closet between that would not be kind of, it seemed like it'd be maddening.

Benny Darsow: Yeah. Yeah. I believe it. I'm actually, I'm actually kind of looking forward to it. Well, I'm very much looking forward to sort of starting up with with, with Carnival again, for that exact reason that, that it's sort of efficient, you know, I think one of the, one of the things I find a bit frustrating on the P& O ships is Ironically is how well we get treated like and how little is required of us.

You know, you, you, you do a show to 500 people and okay, we get to do a repeat show now as well. So you get your two shows in a night and then you look at your schedule and you're not required to work for the next five days. And you know, you've got all this performing energy in your body. It's been fun.

It's like, honestly, I would, I would want that. I would want those passengers to get off the next morning. I give me, give me another, give me another thousand passengers, you know, the next night, you know, like. That, that's where I'm at in my life and my career. I want to, I want to, I want to do this, you know, you know what I mean?

Like I don't want to do it, feel the buzz and then kind of have, you know, four days before anything's required of me again.

Carole Freeman: Oh, that's such a good point too. Cause that buzz of getting to do like a full weekend of shows at a club or like, you know, back to back to back road gigs over, you know, three or four days.

It definitely, like, I, I just find it like accelerate your growth and your, your joke so much faster than like having to wait so long in between getting your next performance. So yeah, I can imagine. Yeah. And even thought about that whole part of it about like having, okay, I I'm here. I love comedy. I'm here to do standup comedy and I had to wait five days until I get to perform again.

Must be. Do you get then the, the passengers that. Find out you're the comedian. They're like, tell me a joke or, Hey, I got a story for you. You can use this.

Benny Darsow: You might, yeah, yeah. Aussie's love doing that stuff in general. But they talk about, they talk about ship fame now, like, you know, probably all of us as comics at some stage we we, we, we achieve a degree of genuine sort of.

out in the real world fame. But in the meantime, you have, you have what they call ship fame where you potentially quite anonymous for the first couple of days of the cruise as you sort of slink around in your flip flops and your board shorts and your backwards cap. And then, you know, you genuinely.

Performing to maybe a thousand of the 3000 adults that are on that ship, you know, on your performing night. And then from that moment on until those passengers get off, you know, you're extremely visible. Yeah, so that, that's that, that's, that's a really interesting thing to experience. And also the fact that you can be kind of just, you know, getting a coffee or something, you know, two days after you show.

And have the person in the line behind you with someone that saw your show two nights ago. It's like that doesn't happen on, it wouldn't happen like that on land, if that makes sense, like that audience is done and gone, that things happen, you know, but whatever you did on that show sort of sticks with you for good, bad, or otherwise until the moment that that curse finishes.

Carole Freeman: Oh, wow. Yeah. That would be a different level of awkward and be good or bad. Do you people kind of run a penny and they like yell out your punchlines to you? You're like, yeah, for sure. Yeah. Yeah. That's great. Well Jason, Jason Roland from comedy feedback shared with me how you're an amazing mentor to comics.

And so I'm wondering just kind of last question for you is like, what,

what tips do you have for Up and coming comics?

Benny Darsow: Oh, that's, that's really broad question to people know who we're talking about with Jason.

Carole Freeman: Some of them do. So my first episode was interviewing. So if go back to episode one, Jason Rowland of comedy feedback, he does a showcase prep course and one on one.

Basically comedy coaching and, and he's the vice president of world series of comedy. And so some people watching may know who he is and some people may not. So great guy though.

Benny Darsow: Yeah. Yeah. Jason was, oh, wow. I don't even know how to sort of like a, like a bit of an angel for me. Like I went to Vancouver for the first time in 2014.

I financed trips over there that year. And then in 2015, each of them cost me about a nine grand credit card spending maybe kind of 10 to 12 weeks in the States and Canada combined. To just kind of, you know take that little next sort of step in my career from just sort of performing around Australia.

Jason was the general manager of the Vancouver comedy mix

which doesn't even exist anymore. But at the time I think it was what was it? It was, it was arguably the best club in Vancouver and like a genuine, you know, top, top tier kind of comedy club that would get, you know, very good us headliners there at certain stages throughout the year.

And. So that was just unbelievable to kind of, you know, get, get an opportunity to perform there in that first year. I think I, I was just doing a couple of the midweek spots initially, you know, on a lineup of 15 people. And then they were kind enough to give me a couple of the weekend spots while I was still there.

Just, just a little five minute spots. And then the next year I came back, Jason made sure I got the 20 minute middle bracket spot. Which was really cool. And then it was another three years before I was able to get back there. So 2018 and just, you know, slightly off page time, just in all honesty, like it was I can't remember.

I think, I think they said summer. There is when the audience is a lower because because of the great weather, you know, people are sort of doing things outdoors. And so that's an opportunity where they can tend to give either you know, a local a local act, you know, an opportunity to headline or in, in my case, it was, you know, someone who was willing to sort of come across from the other side of the world and.

Be in that be in that area for a couple of months, they, they said, well, you know, what, why don't, why don't you headline a week? And so, you know, Jason really sort of like, yeah, took, took me under his wing and to have that kind of support and that opportunity to kind of find my footing and grow, you know, in a particular club on the other side of the world, that was massive for me.

And you know, we've stayed in touch. Jason's coming up to Australia and I was able to sort of, you know, just catch up with him a little bit here. Show him a few things here. And yeah, he's obviously running that for one of a better word, comedy school comedy feedback course, you know, he's just offering so much help there to, to those to those students.

He has such, such such a broad knowledge, you know, within the industry from what he's sort of. scene with everybody who's come through the mix and with his role in running the club and he's just a very interesting guy as well, you know, he's, he's he's been like a team manager on baseball teams and stuff like that.

So for a range of reasons, he, he's a, he's a terrific, mentor himself for you know, a lot of younger comics. And yeah, he's just sort of had me do a couple of little sessions with a couple of his classes, which have been very sort of yeah, flattered by. And I think, you know, I think that's really, I think it's really important to, you know, not be, not be sticky with what, you know, you know, like so, so many of the ways we've sort of improved or got a leg up or a new little opportunity or an insight into something is someone who's already been there.

You know, just yeah. Sharing something that to them is just something they know, but to you could be, you know, that little kind of shining gold nugget that kind of opens a new door for you. So yeah, I'm more than happy. Any, any, any opportunity where, where someone sort of you know, makes it clear to you that that that you've got a little bit of wisdom that, that, that might help them.

I think, I think that's I think it's a good mentality to have cause it's a weird industry, isn't it? You know, where it can be a bit clicky and. That's not a, that's not a, that's not a big statement. Is it? It's, you know, we're, we're, we're, we're partly doing this because we have egos and, you know, we, we want, we want to name up there in lights and, you know, we want every opportunity that, you know, we can sort of get our hands on to, you know to show people what we can do.

But I think, I think that other side of it is so you. is so important. And sorry, just just to just to take that one step further. But I'll never I'll never forget. I have a mate who he made this statement because, you know, festival environments in particular, everything's very competitive. Everyone feels like they're competing for audiences.

And he just made this like general observation.

And he said, Let's just say 5% of you know, the general population out there watch stand up comedy. He's like, how about instead of all of us kind of like trying to sort of compete for that and fight for it, we make each other better. And then 10% of the population want to come out and watch stand up comedy.

Well, we're all performing the. twice the numbers, you know what I mean? And that's always stuck with me. It just completely flipped the whole thing of being protective about what you know you know, or what you've got access to. And if we can, if we can get it out there into this kind of general space, the people who, the people who want to, the people who want something out of this, they're going to work hard anyway.

Do you know what I mean? The people who, the people who are here for the wrong reasons. Regardless of what, what information is there for them, they're not going to do the work. Do you know what I mean? It, it, it absolutely sorts itself out, you know, but, but why not as a starting point, why don't we just, why don't we just get everything out there?

You know what I mean? And, and give each other, you know, just the opportunity that we can to. To all, you know, get as good as we can

Carole Freeman: comedy abundance mindset. I love it. The more that we elevate each other, the more that we just elevate comedy in general, and then more people are going to want to come and watch and view and listen that that's great.

And I, I feel very strongly in our career. We, it's so hard to get good. Comedy all by yourself. If you're the only one working on your jokes I, I feel like we really need those veteran comics to, to mentor us and help us see our blind spots and, you know, help us figure this, this out, you know, that's really, again, there's no school or degrees in it and

we just have each other to lean on and help us learn and get better and improve.

Benny Darsow: I think that's so true. And, and, and every, you know, every one of these people that you sort of led into your reference group. In whatever way, whether it's, you know, a mentor. Whether it's just someone that you happen to perform with for a week or, you know, even if it's the audiences or whatever, whatever it is or the opinion of a particular club book, or it's all, it's all kind of like, shaping what you do.

You know what I mean? You might have your basic kind of product and you might have a particular direction that it's kind of going in that, that sort of, that might already kind of be there, but everyone, everyone is kind of nudging at the sides of it, if that makes sense. And you know, that it's like, what about just going a little bit more in this direction?

Or do you realize that this is something you do really well, or do you realize that you have like a little bad tendency over here or something like that? And that stuff, you know what I mean? Like, Especially the better you get, the more nuanced it sort of becomes. That stuff is so, that stuff is so valuable.

And I think it only comes from. From, from that interconnection with, with the broader industry. Doesn't it?

Carole Freeman: Yes. Yeah. You need those people that I found early on. It was first interacting with comics that were much further in the me was like, they kind of just ignore you because they're used to seeing people come and go in the industry and not really stick with it.

And by the time they started, you know. Tagging your jokes or at least saying like, Hey, when you do that, did you mean to say it that way? It was like, Oh, they actually listened to what I'm saying. So whatever they have to say at that point is like, I'm going to take all of it in. And, and cause it's a compliment and you.

They know so much more than me about this. So I'm gonna take all of that and see how I can make myself better with it.

Benny Darsow: So, yeah, that's so true. And I think we just naturally have a tendency to be defensive, don't we? When people mm-hmm. kind of critique what we do. You know, and, and, and that is natural.

But I think, I think there's so much value in what you just sort of said where it's like, if someone's suggesting something, it means that you've probably done well enough that their ears pricked up, that they bothered to listen to you for a few minutes. Mm-hmm. And take an interest to the degree that they maybe have a suggestion for you.

So, you know, at the very least, you know, appreciate that.

Carole Freeman: That's a good point. Yeah. If nobody ever gives you any feedback, that might mean that maybe, maybe you should consider a different career or hobby.

Benny Darsow:

If no one gives you feedback, they are giving you feedback.

Carole Freeman: Good point. Oh, well, anything else, Benny, that you were hoping I would ask about or anything else that you want to share with her?

Our viewers, our listeners in the future,

Benny Darsow: I think just, just, just really quickly. You, you asked sort of sort of any, any any advice before. And I think I went on a little bit more so about you know, Jason and then sort of that role, I guess, of, of, of mentoring that, that, that we sometimes get presented with

My big bit of advice would be to let the, it's so cliche, let the journey unfold.

You know, we're so keen for like the next thing or the next bit of validation or the next credit or something like that. Do you know what I mean? And we all want to be better than we are right now. I want to be a lot better than I am right now. And I'm sure most people do. And it's like, Cheers. Allow that to happen.

Like you, you need to take care of the processes, you know, you're writing, watching, getting up as much as you can as, as we were just sort of mentioning, you know, interfacing with other people to sort of, you know, nudge you sort of along that kind of track, let the process do its thing. You will be better in five years.

You will be better in 10 years. And those opportunities, I do agree that a little bit of sort of pushing or at the least You know, the very least maybe putting your hand up or being sort of receptive to certain sort of opportunities is not a bad thing, but I think by and large, those opportunities will find you at the right time.

You get your first TV gig when you're ready for your first TV gig, even if, even if you being ready for your first TV gig was you being ready two years earlier and now you're really ready for your first TV gig, you know that, that kind of stuff will. It will find a way to come in you know, when, when, when, when the time is right.

I think, I think just having some kind of trust that, that the process does know what it's doing is a, is a really valuable thing just to kind of you know, put that part of our minds at ease. That's constantly going like, Oh, where's this going? Where's the next step of opportunity coming from? Do I have to push, you know, what do I have to do?

Like just do what you do. And, and over time, often in weird ways, you know, what, what you need will come in. That, that would be, that would be my biggest bit of advice.

Carole Freeman: I love that. So let the journey unfold. And that reminds me. I spoke with my, one of my sisters yesterday and she shared with me that she'd went on a psilocybin journey a guided one.

And the big thing that she, the message she got, her takeaway, and it was really stood out to me is you can't get it wrong. So about life, you can't get it wrong. And so that fits so well with your, like, just, just let the journey unfold. You're, you're not going to get it wrong. It's going to be what it is.

And you're going to be where you need to be when you need to be there. Yeah. It's so hard to do sometimes though. Cause you I don't know if I'm like every other comics are like me, but I find myself comparing myself to like, Oh, somebody who's the same number of years in or somebody who's less years in.

And, Oh my gosh, there's so much further ahead, but, but just, I'm going to keep remembering that. Let the journey unfold. We'll be in the right time.

Benny Darsow: A hundred percent. And, and, and, you know, personally, you know, whatever I am 20, 21 years in, like I have friends who even just sort of within the boundaries of Australia have genuinely you know.

Got their name up in lights and you know, have fame whether it's sort of like through radio or TV or you know a particular festival sort of really sort of pushing what they do forward. And it's funny. Like I, I haven't taken that path. I think at certain times there have been opportunities to sort of go down that.

And for whatever reason, I haven't gone down that or it sort of, hasn't sort of, you know, worked out in that way. There are moments where, you know, I go, Oh man, you're at the 20 year mark. You kind of, you know, you're on cruise ships, you're doing comedy clubs. You sort of haven't sort of, you know, said yes to radio.

You haven't sort of necessarily jumped up there on TV. You know, the average person on the street at the at the supermarket. You know, doesn't necessarily sort of know who you are and I'm well aware that I have friends who I believe I'm as talented as I put in the same sort of work as you know, that would be sort of having that kind of experience.

And I think, I think it's just really, really important to, to trust the way that things unfold for you and, and, you know, just because something is a particular right way for it to kind of unfold for someone else. And, and maybe there are certain elements of that that you'd like for yourself. I think, I think you have to, you have to trust that you don't always, you don't always understand why things are happening in a particular way for you.

And for me, you know. These environments, cruise ships, like mining camps, regional tours, inner city hipster crowds, corporate environments, you know overseas in, you know, half a dozen different countries, you know, self financed, you know, most of the time, you know, certainly earlier on, it's like, that's been, that's been my journey, but.

But look at what it's building in me, like the versatility and the life experience and the ability to handle different crowds and the substance that's sort of building there that when the right moment or the right opportunity does come along where you do just sort of nudge into a little bit more of a public profile or things kind of become a bit more visible, it's like I wouldn't, I wouldn't replace that substance that's there now in me, For anything.

And, and that's, that's a substance that, that, that, that, that some people who, whose names, you know, were up in lights three, four, five years in and have performed in a narrower bandwidth of environments that are made to be a lot more controlled or a lot safer, et cetera. That's, that's maybe a substance that ultimately they, they don't have.

And so for me to sort of look at them and go, Oh, that's what I wish I had. It's like, well, that's, that's, that's really flawed thinking. And, and you're not kind of honoring the way in which things have been laid out for you, that's yeah. That's a big one. And I, and I think if you're going to genuinely sort of take something somewhere, like, I mean, like get world class and international, wouldn't you have wanted, wouldn't you have wanted a really, really solid platform of having the shit beaten out of you, like in, in, in all of these different environments, do you know what I mean?

Where you've had to represent yourself and You know, be the one to sort of make your own judgment call on what's next. And it's like just just this point that I'm now getting to where I feel like that stuff is increasingly opening up. It's like now I see it. I've got 20 years. I've got I've got 20 years to see to see the value in all of these things that at the time, you know, possibly made very little sense.

You know what I mean? Or you felt like you've been ignored or you're invisible or. You know, it's, it's, it's, it's not, it's not, it's not for you. You know what I mean?

Carole Freeman: I feel like it was just at a good sermon or like I just joined a cult and the leader just gave us the best life advice ever. It's like, amen, Benny.

That's good life advice in general.

Benny Darsow: I got, I got to stop drinking coffee before I do these podcasts.

Carole Freeman: Oh, there you go. You missed, you missed your calling. You could have the Australian The Benny is our, Benny is our, Benny's our leader. I don't know. I couldn't make it.

Benny Darsow: It sounds like a terrible cult. I'm just going to jump in here.

Carole Freeman: Can't wait for the Netflix expose in 20 years.

Benny Darsow: Yeah, yeah, for sure.

Carole Freeman: Oh, well, what's the best way for people to connect with you? Follow you? Website, social media. What, what do you want to share?

Benny Darsow: Yeah, for sure. Instagram. Yeah, Instagram Benny, Benny Darsow yeah, I have patches where I upload a lot of stuff to, to Instagram Reels and to TikTok, so Benny Darsow on that as well.

Okay. Still got my little, still got my little Facebook account, Benny Darsow as well on there. I think Facebook's becoming more and more of a dinosaur though.

Carole Freeman: Yeah, yeah. So, well, that's where most of our viewers came from today though. So we don't want to say too bad, too many bad things about it. Thank you all on Facebook for watching us.

And also those of you in the future, give us a hashtag replay too. So, yeah,

Benny Darsow: yeah, no, no, no, no, no, for sure. Yeah, just, just, just a range of platforms. Let people find you how they how they want to find you. But yeah, happy to, happy to happy to have. Any new followers on there and also happy to converse if anyone does want to send a message or say something or ask something.

Yeah, very happy to, very happy to have a chat.

Carole Freeman: I love it. I appreciate it so much getting up so early to be with us and starting this at 8am your time. That, that is such a gift. So I can't thank you enough. Thank you for everything that you've shared with us. And I look forward to, well, maybe someday I've never been to Australia.

So maybe I'll get to see you in person someday. So

Benny Darsow: yeah, it's been really nice to meet you.

Carole Freeman: Do you have no show tonight, but you're getting on a cruise ship this weekend, right? Or

Benny Darsow: this weekend I'm at the sit down comedy club in Brisbane. So I've got. Got a weekend there and then go a little further south to the Gold Coast next week.

And then I get a week at home. This is the tail end of nine weeks on the road. All right.

Carole Freeman: So if you have any viewers or listeners in Australia, there's still time to get out there. And even if you're in another country, you know what, if you really wanted to, you could get. Book a flight. You could make it, you can make it to a show this weekend.


Benny Darsow: definitely, definitely buy you a tequila after the show.

Carole Freeman: If you do that, there you go. All right. Yeah. Well, thanks again, Benny. Thank you everyone for watching and listening and look forward to bringing you some more great comedy tips so you can get good. I'll see you all soon. Bye now.

Benny Darsow: Thanks Carole.

See you guys.

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